I don’t know about you, but I’m the type of person who loves watching home improvement shows, scrolling through Pinterest DIY boards, and roaming the aisles of Pier 1 and World Market. When I moved into my own apartment a few months ago, I was so excited to decorate and make it look just like the photo-ready interiors that are found in the aforementioned places. The only problem? Plain white walls are so boring, and that’s all my roommates and I had to work with! We knew that we had to get something up on the bland walls—and soon! Luckily, I’ve got connections to a talented artist… my mom… so I asked her to paint something for us. What I didn’t expect was to be responsible for helping with said artwork! Despite my non-existent experience with painting, the canvases turned out really well, and it was also a really fun process thanks to my mom!
As you can see in the photo below, my roommates and I have mainly kept to the blue palate as we bought items for our place. In keeping with the theme, my mom and I did some Pinterest surfing for inspiration, and we decided to play off of a rug that I bought at Pier 1 that has shades of blue and mint with rose gold accents. Our end result was unique and matches perfectly!
Here’s how to recreate our blue and metallic foil abstract paintings:
Step 1: Gather your supplies!
My mom and I went to Michael’s to get our canvases, a variety of paints, metallic foils, and brushes. Before you begin shopping, you’re going to want to choose a theme color and pick out various shades of that color that will compliment each other while still being different enough to contrast. We chose blues, so we picked out two light blues (Pale Blue and Robin’s Egg Blue), two medium blues (Bahama Blue and Turquoise), a dark blue (Navy), and a white. To add texture, we mixed heavy gel with our base colors. We used both foam brushes and regular brushes, as well as a spoon, to get the paint on the canvases. We wanted to add a little interest to the paintings by adding metallic foil, and we got really lucky by finding a package that had flakes of gold, rose gold, red, and blue. To seal our paintings, we sprayed them with a clear gloss from Krylon. We also covered them in Mod Podge when they were completely dry. We used a set of three 16” x 20” canvases.
Step 2: Base color
First, we spread the heavy gel onto our bare canvases using the back of a spoon. The placement of the gel at this point doesn’t really matter; you’re going to end up mixing it with paint and blending it all over the canvas for texture. Next, we drizzled the Pale Blue and white onto the canvases before using a wide foam brush and vertical brush strokes to cover the entire surface and edges of the canvases in paint. We didn’t worry about the color being even. In fact, we wanted to maintain the visual of the brush strokes throughout the entire process. Let the base color dry before moving on.
Step 3: Layer other blues
Decide on a horizon line. Even though the goal for this set is to be abstract, it’s still helpful to work off of some sort of horizon line. At this point, we wanted ours to be in the middle, so we worked our paints from light to dark moving inward towards that line. Starting with your lightest shade (apart from the background color), drizzle a line of paint down the edges of the horizon line. For us, this was Robin’s Egg Blue. Use a regular wide brush and drag the paint back and forth vertically to spread the line. Let the paint dry for a few minutes. Repeat with each other blue, from light to dark, moving each color through the horizon line vertically.
Step 4: Lighten and Touch up
After we added the navy (which turned out more indigo/purple than true blue), we didn’t like how dark it looked. The navy had overpowered the other colors in an unbalanced way, so we went back in with more of the lighter blues on the edges. We also added more white and Pale Blue and finished it off with Bahama Blue. In order to keep the navy as an anchor without overwhelming the other blues, we decided to use it as the horizon line. Most of it was covered, but we let a jagged line peek through. At this point, it’s about making the painting look how you want it to look. If you like certain colors better than others, go back in and touch it up so that what you like is showing. Overall, the layers of all the different colors will still appear, even faintly, and add interest.
Step 5: Add Metallic Foil
Before the paint dries completely, press the foil where you want it. We were going for ‘veins’ of rose gold and gold, so we tried to balance each canvas with long, skinny abstract patches of foil. The foil is super hard to work with because it clings to anything it touches, so don’t try to be too perfect about the placement of it. The paintings are supposed to be abstract, so it is okay if pieces land where you might not have intended.
Step 6: Spray with Sealant
At this point, we sprayed each canvas with Krylon’s clear acrylic sealant to protect the metallic foil as the paint dried.
Step 7: Add Gold Leaf Around the Edges
We didn’t think that the paintings looked quite finished, so we decided to frame each canvas in gold leaf. My mom cut the leaf while it was still in the package in order to make it easier to handle, and after lining the edge she was working on with Mod Podge, she pressed the piece of leaf onto the adhesive, leaving the lining on it to, once again, make the gold leaf easier to work with. After peeling off the lining, she added a layer of Mod Podge over the top of the gold leaf to ensure that it stayed. To make this process easier, she placed each canvas on a rectangular step stool so that she wouldn’t have to touch the edges as she worked.
Step 8: Cover Entire Painting in Mod Podge
The final step to these abstract paintings is to seal everything with Mod Podge. The main reason is to make sure that the foil stays in place, but it also helps provide a nice gloss to the paint. After letting the paintings dry for a day or two, they are ready to display!
After playing around with the order and rotation of the three canvases, we finally decided on a sequence that looked the best to us. We used Velcro command strips on the top corners of the paintings to hang them—damage free!
The final product turned out so well, and fits so seamlessly with the rest of our decor! It was so much fun to do this project with my mom, and I’m glad that I get to say “My mom and I made those!” whenever a guest comments on the paintings displayed in my roommates’ and my living room!
No matter what skill level you are, I’m now confident that anyone can create a beautiful abstract painting on their own! It’s really not as intimidating as it looks; you only need a little patience and an idea!
As always, drop a comment down below if you have any questions, have any tips for us, or just want to say hi!
Until next week!